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FNA | Family List | FNA Vol. 14 | Loganiaceae | Strychnos

1. Strychnos spinosa Lamarck in J. Lamarck and J. Poiret, Tabl. Encycl. 2: 38. 1794.
[F I]

Monkey- or Natal- or wood-orange

Trunk branching near base; outer bark gray or brown, tending to flake in rectangular segments; inner bark yellowish with green margins. Branchlets glabrous or short-hairy; spines axillary and terminal, 1 cm. Leaves: stipules narrowly trian­gular, 1–2 mm; petiole 2–10 mm; blade light to dark green, elliptic, ovate, or suborbicu­late, 1.5–9(–13.5) × 1.2–7.5 cm, surfaces glabrous or sparsely hairy. Inflorescences congested thyrses, 10–20 mm diam.; bracts linear, 3–4 mm, sparsely hairy. Pedicels sparsely to densely pubescent. Flowers: sepals 1.5–6 mm; corolla white or pale green, 3–6 mm, glabrous or sparsely hairy outside, throat with ring of hairs inside, lobes triangular, 1.2–2 mm. Berries spheric, pulp yellow, exocarp thick, woody, granular, 5–12.5 cm diam. Seeds 10–100, brown, obliquely ovate or elliptic, flattened, 2 cm, short-hairy. 2n = 44.

Flowering Mar–May(–Sep). Disturbed, weedy areas, fencerows, railroad rights-of-way, dumps, vacant lots; 0–20 m; introduced; Fla.; Africa; Indian Ocean Islands (Madagascar, Mauritius).

Strychnos spinosa is cultivated in southern Florida and elsewhere outside its native range for its edible, sour-sweet fruit pulp, although the seeds and unripe fruit are toxic (C. Orwa et al., Herbarium vouchers of S. spinosa growing and producing fruit outside of cultivation have been collected sporadically from as early as 1961, from Highlands, Hillsborough, Martin, and Miami-Dade counties. The longevity of these trees is unknown, and the production of seedlings has not been documented. Orwa et al. cited many uses of S. spinosa in Africa, including as food, livestock fodder, fuel, timber, musical instruments, poison, and medicine, particularly as a treatment for snakebite. Strychnos spinosa occurs in savanna forests throughout its native tropical Africa, as well as in open woodland and riparian fringes, from 0–2200 m elevation (A. J. M. Leeuwenberg 1969; Orwa et al.).


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